MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s new wrestling coach built a reputation as a top recruiter at Missouri, Oklahoma and Penn State, and now he’s aiming to build the Mountaineers program into a Big 12 force.

Sammie Henson on Monday became WVU’s eighth wrestling coach, and its first new one in 36 years, following Craig Turnbull’s contentious firing in March.

A 17-year career assistant who had stops that included Cal Poly, Nebraska and Army, Henson said of his new job: “I look for me and my family to be here a long, long time.”

Henson was a Big Eight champion and All-American for Missouri in 1991 before transferring to Clemson, where he became a two-time NCAA champ and compiled a 71-0 record. He was inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame in 2000.

“In addition to his record on the mat as a competitor and coach, two things really stood out to me about Sammie,” said West Virginia athletics director Oliver Luck. “First, he has an excellent record academically during his coaching career and that is important to us provided our recent issues.

“Secondly, at all his stops, Sammie has had a vibrant role in the regional training centers to help amateur wrestlers train at the highest levels. Regional training centers make huge impacts with collegiate and amateur wresters, and we are excited to re-establish the dormant wrestling training center here.”

Watch Monday’s complete news conference above.

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  • Wrestler

    Great hire, he will be excellent at instructing young men how to roll around on a mat, in some very precarious positions, and strategically grope other young men while wearing ear muffs.

    • WVWHo

      as long as he brings in the stinger splash and the five knuckle shuffle I will be in attendance!

  • rekterx

    I didn't watch this video of the presser but I did watch a different one. I don't know, therefore, if Bob Hertzell's questions about Greg Jones appear in this video. But if Bob Hertzell were as persistent, and pointed, in asking Bob Huggins questions about his basketball program as he was in trying to nail down Henson concerning Greg Jones we might actually have a reason to buy a newspaper.

  • Mr Bullsnip

    I do hope that coach Henson does not overlook the home grown wrestlers like Turnbull did.
    I know West Virginia is not a wrestling state but their are a few kids that can and could have made a big impact on the program.

  • Rick55

    Hold on. Let me take this down. Let me count to 10; I don't want to be out-of-bounds with this, and I'm sure Luck grappled with this decision, but sometimes he's really hard to pin down!

  • Ron - from Morgantown

    Luck seems to be doing better with the non rev sports hirings than with the major sports . I think its just a matter of time before football starts to show improvement . This hire seems like it came right out of central casting . What's not to like ? Sure , he has U-Haul on speed dial but this is different because it a head coaching job at a major D1 and that should stop the sightseeing .

    • Randy

      Well if you think about it-----------ice ages are just a matter of time.

  • David Kennedy

    I'm excited about this hire...I smell the Olympic's in the WVU future...this guy knows how to do that.

  • william


    • Andy

      Except that your spelling is unacceptable.

  • Mr Bullsnip

    Congrats to coach Henson, Wv is long over due on this change.

  • pghmountaineer

    This might just be the best hire that Luck has made since he's been here.

    • AJ

      I agree. Sammie wanted to be here so that certainly helped.

  • Mister Man

    Welcome to your family and you, coach.

  • Huh?

    What about Greg Jones?

    • Mitch

      @ Huh?

      What about him? His resume isn't even in the same universe as Henson's.

      • Huh?

        We aren't talking resumes. We are talking a dedicated wrestler for WVU who happens to be the assistant. His wrestling career speaks volumes as well as his commitment to WVU wrestling. I personally like when WV keeps it WV. JMO. C'mon, man!

        • Ron - from Morgantown

          My comments were in response to a previous comment about Jones being the " greatest athlete ever " at WVU and nothing else . I'm sure Mr. Jones is a dedicated Mountaineer and a fine wrestling coach and an even better person - but he aint the " greatest athlete ever " at Wvu - not even close . Actually he needs to do what Henson did and coach at other places and see how other programs operate and run.

          • Duane from Morgantown

            Jerry Porter was by far the greatest athlete to ever wear the old gold (yellow) and blue!!! Dude could throw a football 80 yards. I saw him follow up a missed dunk with a dunk in a pick up game at Stansbury Hall. Dude was a freak!!

          • Huh?

            I was actually responding to Mitch. Greg Jones put WVU on the map as well as few WV natives. I just like when a qualified candidate from the same program is given a fair look. Not saying he didn't, but Greg has a name on a national scale in NCAA wrestling. Most people commenting don't follow wrestling.

      • John b

        Greg Jones is the greatest athlete ever at WVU and that includes Jerry West and Sam Huff! Jones resume includes 3 National Championships and was the #1 seed the year he didn't win it. I'm not saying Henson won't be a terrific coach but your comment about a Great Mountaineer is uncalled for and inaccurate.

        • Ron - from Morgantown

          When considering "the greatest athlete ever " one must consider the popularity of the sport . Jones therefore can not be in consideration at WVU . Even during Jones heyday the sport of wrestling barely made the top 10 list of things to watch . I guess I could research Rifle and find some team member that's won a few championships - but why bother ? How can you consider Jones the greatest athlete ever at WVU when comparatively speaking no one saw him compete ? He probably wouldn't even make the top 10 in popularity . In order to be the" greatest ever " you have to have a visceral connection to the fan base and stand the test of time . Jones fails on both tests .

  • Rick S.

    As a student-athlete, Henson started his wrestling career at Missouri, then transferred to Clemson, then went back to Missouri to complete his degree.

    His college coaching resume looks like this:

    1997-2000 Assistant at Oklahoma
    2000-2002 Assistant at Penn State
    2002-2003 Assistant at Army
    2006-2007 Assistant at Nebraska
    2007-2009 Assistant at Cal-Poly
    2009-2011 Assistant at Oklahoma
    2012-2014 Assistant at Missouri

    Henson said of his new job: "I look for me and my family to be here a long, long time."

    With all of the moving around he has done, he probably would like to settle down in one place for more than a couple of years.

    I wish him the best and hope it works out well.

  • jw

    He may be a good hire but we had a great candidate within in our assistant coach which Ollie didn't eaven gave the time to fully hear.

    • Mitch

      @ jw,
      I assume you're referring to Greg Jones. How was he a "great candidate"? What successes were on his resume as a coach?
      Jones' coaching resume couldn't hold a candle to Henson's. Not even close.

  • John

    For all the people BMWing about Turnbull being fired, now what do you have to say? An energetic, upcoming younger coach who can bring life into the program rather than someone a year from retiring. Always better to part ways a year too early than to wait a year too long. Good luck Coach Henson!! It will take time but better days are ahead.

    • john

      This is a great hire by Mr. Luck. Welcome to the Henson family. I hope you love being apart of Morgantown and the Mountaineer Family.

    • john

      Turnbull wasn't fired a year early. He was fired 10 years too late.

    • Rick S.

      If you were the one fired a year before you wanted to retire, I suspect you would feel differently.

      I don't know Coach Turnbull and I don't know if the firing was justified or not. But after someone has been a seemingly good employee for 36 years, it just seems to me that firing that person one year short of retirement, especially the way it was done, is a bit cold. But I guess that is why I am not a manager -- I am not that heartless.

      As I said in my other post, I wish Coach Henson the best and hope it works out well.

      • joe smith

        We all know how well things turned out the last time Ollie was compassionate and kept an aging coach on for an extra year.

        • Rick S.

          True, but there is still a chance Bob Huggins might turn things around.

      • Ron - from Morgantown

        As Luck stated , Turnbull wasn't Bowden or Paterno and Wvu doesn't give lifetime contracts . I , like most WVU fans , wouldn't have had a problem with Turnbull hanging around for another year before retiring but that's not how Mr. Luck operates the Athletic Dept . He's the AD and he has the right to decide who coaches the teams .

      • ViennaGuy

        But Turnbull wasn't fired. His contract term ran out. The only thing Luck did was decline to give him an additional one-year contract.

        • Rick S.

          No, he was fired. He was forced to turn in his keys and told that he was not permitted to return to the facility -- prior to the expiration of his contract. He was not allowed to complete his contract term. You can call it what you want, but I think that is a pretty clear case of being fired.

  • Joe

    Man, this sure is gonna make Mickey Furfari cranky!
    Looks like a good hire from here.

    • Dave

      Not only is Furfari deaf, blind and old, he doesn't report the truth either. Read the rebuttal reply from WVU to Furfari's regarding FOIA requests. You can find that at WVUSPORTS.

    • Pudge


      It's a beautiful sunny day today and I'm sure he feels it's too bright out.